Starting a business involves risk-taking. The first few years of growing a small business come with many trials that must be navigated properly to ensure that your company survives. While some of the challenges are more difficult to solve than others, a good baseline strategy will ensure that you are ready to counter all problems that come your way.
In fact, a whopping 20% of businesses fail within the first year of opening. The problem lies in the fact that many entrepreneurs are not ready to face some of the challenges involved in growing a small business, even though most of them can be overcome with easy fixes.
Let’s take a look at the top 7 challenges for small business growth and offer simple, yet sound advice on how to overcome each one.
1. Money Management
Having enough liquidity in a company is a must to keep up with the business’ overheads. A shortage of cash can lead to quick company closure. As such, it is important that as a business owner, you either capitalise heavily in the business or seek your income elsewhere. If you can put off drawing a salary in the beginning, it will help the business get on its feet faster. For this reason, many budding entrepreneurs carry on working their day jobs, while they nurture their business in its early stages.
2. Hiring the Right People
It’s important to know that it is impossible to grow your business all by yourself. There will come a time that you simply must bite the bullet and hire staff to make your company more productive. The key to ensuring success is to make sure that you hire the right people.
A part of the process of developing your brand includes identifying your company culture and ethos and then nurturing it. This must come from the heart of the business owner. After a clear culture is established, hiring the right staff becomes easier, as you’ll have a guideline of what sort of personality will suit the position offered.
3. Burned Out Bosses
As a new business owner, you must face the reality that burn-out is real. No matter how passionate you are about building your business, the long hours and stress involved in growing a small business can take its toll on you. Fatigue will wear on your emotions and could lead to bad business decisions being made and an unhappy working environment being cultivated.
It’s incumbent upon you as a business owner to trust your business in the hands of your staff so that you can take a small time-out from time to time. Even a weekend away here and there will help you stay fresh and strong.
4. Finding Customers
This is a common challenge presented to businesses big and small. It’s not possible to just sit around and wait for your customers to stumble across your product or service, but you must actively market to them where they are.
The first and most important step in finding your customers lies in identifying who your customers are. Like a wanted poster, no one knows who to be vigilant for unless they have an idea of what the person looks like. As a business owner, you need to identify who your target market is, what they enjoy doing, and where they are likely to be so that you can channel your marketing efforts in that direction.
The marketplace is growing more and more competitive, which drives the need for you to find and keep your customer base. It is, however, important to note that you should always remain focussed on what you do best and offer that your clients, rather than focussing solely on competing with your rivals. This will ensure that your company stands out, rather than becoming another copycat business.
5. Creating Brand Awareness
Big Brand clothing companies like Nike, Adidas, or New Balance, didn’t simply rise into popularity overnight. The result of their renown and success is in most ways thanks to effective brand awareness strategies. When employed correctly, basic strategies can get your brand known too.
A bit of homework is needed by entrepreneurs in three different areas, including:
- Public Relations (PR): This revolves around finding your voice in your respective industry.
- Co-Marketing: Consider partnering with other brands in the business space. This affiliation may cause some of their success to rub off on you.
- Social Media: No-one can deny the current power of social media. Platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, and others can play a large part in exposing your brand to the world. It’s also recommended that you establish a blog channel connected to your social media accounts and website. Blogging is a great way to form trust with your target audience and can create an emotional connection with your brand, driving leads, and traffic to your website or store.
6. Creating a Marketing Database and Generating Leads:
While creating a database is for future sales, lead generation is for sales right now. Both are however built similarly, as they both involve customer engagement. Once the customer is engaged, you’ll be able to get all the necessary particulars and contacts for client retention down the line.
Here are some tips for increasing customer engagement:
- Design a website landing page that guides your visitors to take specific actions.
- Add tools that automatically pull through submission forms to your contact database.
- Each campaign needs its own landing page, to that you can identify and classify your customer base.
- Ensure that all your marketing (social media, traditional media, blog posts etc.) invite a call to action. Never leave your customers wondering what they need to do next!
7. Quality vs Quantity
Often, business owners will push growth at every cost. While there are times for this when you’re growing a small business, it should never affect the quality of the product or service you offer. It should also never compromise the quality of life in the workspace. While your staff should always be challenged, they should never be overwhelmed. Undue emotional stress will simply work against productivity instead of for it.
Stop regularly and re-evaluate the quality vs quantity strategy, as there are no hard and fast rules that can be set out here. It is vital to maintain a fine balance to ensure that optimum productivity is maintained.
Counting the Cost of Growing a Small Business
Starting a business must always come with much meditation, strategy, and planning. As long as you’re ready to meet the challenges, you stand a better chance of survival in the long run.
For more tips on growing a small business, have a look at our recent article which highlights 5 smart strategies you could put into action in a snap.